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Flyers-Sabres Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (41-23-11) at Buffalo Sabres (47-23-6).

TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. EDT.

The Philadelphia Flyers look to become the fifth team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a postseason berth when they take on the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.

The Flyers, with 93 points, need two points in their final seven games to be assured of making the playoffs for the 11th straight season.

Ottawa, Carolina, the New York Rangers and Buffalo already have secured a spot in the postseason.

Securing a playoff berth against the Sabres, however, may be a tough task for the Flyers. Buffalo has won the three previous meetings between the teams this season and is 6-0-0 with one tie at home in the series since a 2-1 loss on April 8, 2001.

Mike Knuble had a goal and an assist and Simon Gagne scored his team-high 43rd goal, but the Flyers were unable to hold a one-goal lead in the third period and lost 3-2 in a shootout to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

The defeat moved the first-place Rangers three points ahead of the Flyers in the division and put New York in the playoffs for the first time since 1997, ending the league's longest active postseason drought.

"We have to try to catch them," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We are a team that is getting better almost daily."

Knuble, whose goal was his career-high 32nd, has scored in seven straight games against the Sabres. He has 14 goals and four assists in 33 games against Buffalo.

The Sabres clinched their first playoff berth in four seasons with a 3-2 shootout win over Toronto on Monday, then got two goals and an assist from Daniel Briere and four points from Maxim Afinogenov in a 5-4 overtime win over Northeast Division-leading Ottawa on Wednesday.

Briere's second goal came on the power play at 4:13 of the extra period.

"I don't want to get too excited but we're very happy with the win," Briere said after the Sabres rallied from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits. "The thing we're going to build off is that we came back from behind and never quit."

The victory, Buffalo's 47th of the season, gave the Sabres their best total since winning 48 in 1983-84.

The win was the 300th of coach Lindy Ruff's career, making him the 31st NHL coach to reach that plateau and the 16th to do it with the same team.

Martin Biron, making his second straight start in place of the struggling Ryan Miller, made 30 saves to improve to 20-8-3 this season.

Biron is 7-3-0 with two ties and a 1.48 goals-against average in 12 games against the Flyers.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 93 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Atlantic Division. Sabres - 100 points, 2nd place, 8 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Gagne, 43 goals; Peter Forsberg, 55 assists and 74 points; Donald Brashear, 134 PIM. Sabres - Chris Drury, 25 goals; Afinogenov, 43 assists and 64 points; Andrew Peters, 84 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flyers - Power play: 18.0 percent (75 for 416), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.4 percent (340 for 428), 25th. Sabres - Power play: 20.8 percent (94 for 452), 3rd. Penalty killing: 86.3 percent (352 for 408), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Robert Esche (19-9-5, 1 SO, 2.96 GAA); Antero Niittymaki (22-14-6, 2, 2.98). Sabres - Miller (26-13-3, 2.69); Biron (20-8-3, 2.98).

SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: March 11; Sabres, 6-5. At Philadelphia, Mike Grier scored with 4.6 seconds left in regulation, and Jochen Hecht had a goal and three assists as Buffalo improved to 12-1-2 in its last 15 games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 21-11-5 on the road; Sabres - 25-10-3 at home.

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